Two employees at Lancashire councils earned more than £300,000 year, a new report into high wages in the public sector found.
The total remuneration for the director of Neighbourhoods, Environmental Health at South Ribble Council was £328,756, while a West Lancashire employee’s figure stood at more than £337,000.
The survey by the Taxpayers’ Alliance reports that 2,454 council staff across the UK raked in more than £100,000 in 2017/18.
The revelations come at a time when many councils are cutting millions from their budgets.
There are eight employees at Lancashire County Council whose overall package or salary tops £100,000, four at South Ribble, two at West Lancashire and one each at Chorley and Preston - the chief executives.
The Tax Payers’ Alliance acknowledges that some councils have performed well under extreme difficulties posed by the Government’s austerity measures.
But the Alliance, a pressure group campaigning for lower taxes which also claims to scrutinise expenses by MPs and spending at local government, says its report will help council tax payers make up their own minds about the pay.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last twenty years and spending has gone through the roof.
“Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services rather than scaling back top pay.
“Despite many in the public sector facing a much-needed pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages, with staggering pay-outs for those leaving their jobs.”
In the North West, the local authority with the most employees who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2017-18 was Cheshire East with 19.
The biggest remuneration package in this region was received by Wirral’s Managing Director for Delivery - £569,423.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance said some roles were not disclosed in its report because those details were not divulged in the accounts.
Lancashire County Council has committed to finding £135m of savings in the four years to 2021-22.
‘It is important that the right person leads the council and has the right skills’
Some of the overall pay-outs in local councils - with pensions included - have raised eyebrows.
One employee at South Ribble Council, the director of neighbourhoods, environmental and health assets, had a basic salary of £73,693 but an overall package including pension of a staggering £328,756,
Also at South Ribble, accounts show a ‘Consultant for Human Resources and Organisation Development’ received a pension pot of £17,074 as part of an overall pay package of £131,661,
South Ribble had four staff on the ‘rich list’, while West Lancashire had two.
At West Lancashire, the director of leisure/wellbeing, while taking home a relatively modest £66,239, had a total package of £337,351.
West Lancashire said the figures by the Tax Payers’ Alliance did not take into account changes which had since been made at the authority.
A West Lancashire spokesman said the director of leisure/wellbeing was made redundant in a council restructure in the 2017/18 financial year and left the authority in January 2018.
He said: “The restructure streamlined the management of the council and saved the authority £267,000, part of £10 million in savings the Council has made over the last nine years.
“The figure of £337,351 includes redundancy payments for loss of office, and the pension payments they were entitled to on leaving, including their own contributions during their career. It also includes the basic salary payments of £66,239 which were correct up to the person in post leaving.
“The restructure created the new post of director of leisure and environment.
“Figures disclosed in the Council Statement of Accounts 2017/2018 show this post pays an annual salary of £72,841, with pension payments of £11,828.”
Heather McManus, Chief Executive of South Ribble Borough Council said: “The council working with the Local Government Association (LGA), have over the past two years undertaken a significant organisational change programme which resulted in a restructure of the senior management team.
“The cost of this restructure was met through efficiency savings and was in line with statutory guidelines. The council now has a new permanent leadership structure in place.”
She added: "“The council has carried out the restructure in line with policies and procedures to deliver long term efficiency gains over and above the costs of implementation.
“We’d like to clarify that the Interim HR & OD Consultant” was engaged on an employee contract but we will not comment further on individual employee cases.”
Chorley’s chief executive Gary Hall pulled in £103,000 a year and has a total package of £121,000, according to the figures.
A Chorley Council spokesman said: “The Council’s Chief Executive has the highest level of accountability for a wide range of local services.
“It is important that the right person leads the Council and has the right skills and experience.
“The majority of local authority Chief Executive roles are paid similar, if not more, to reflect this leadership and accountability.
“As a Council we are well aware of the current financial climate and we continue to work hard to make sure the town is in a strong position for both residents and businesses.
“In the last few years we have had to deal with the difficult challenges presented to us due to having funding cut by central government. However, as an organisation we haven’t cut a single service we offer, while we continue to invest in projects like Market Walk and Strawberry Fields that will give Chorley a healthy outlook in the years to come.”
And Preston City Council’s chief executive Lorraine Norris was listed as earning a basic salary of £129,000 and an overall pay package of £146,000.
In May last year she was succeeded by interim chief executive, Adrian Phillips.